December 19, 2014

"Peace on Earth" Humility is the Key and the Christ Child is the Answer

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson

Peace on earth? Where is it? Is it in Syria? How about Pakistan? It is not in Sudan or Iraq. It is definitely not hanging out in Afghanistan or Iran. Pakistan?—God help us. How about Russia and Ukraine and Ferguson, Missouri? What does "Peace on Earth" mean? Well my friends, it means exactly what it says: PEACE on EARTH. However, has there ever been Peace on Earth? From the beginning of the human race until today, I think not. We might ask, “and why not?”

The answer is actually simple and straightforward. True Peace on Earth can only come about by the destruction of the great demon, Pride. Yes, Pride destroys Peace. It also destroys love between people, within families, among friends and co-workers. How often does Pride bring forth its seedy companions of wrath and envy? Pride prompts murder and mayhem and wars. It has done so from time immemorial. It is probably the most destructive force on the planet and we all have it within us. How can so many of our species conquer this malignant force while others succumb to its devilish grasp? The answer is some people have what is called Humility.

How do we find our Humility? How can we kick the power of Pride to the curb? The answer came to us in the form of a newborn baby on Christmas and we celebrate that day in one week. Humility exploded on Christmas Day.  God Himself, the Creator of all that we have, including free-will, came to us and lived with us. Hey folks, this act was HUMILITY SUPREME. All we have to do is look into a pile  of straw at a newborn baby.  Therein lies our answer to finding Humility.

This story is so amazing that our simple common sense will tell us it was never fabricated or made up. The most creative writers who ever lived could not have conjured up such a preposterous tale. Imagine, a King being born in a smelly, dirty, animal stall to a simple teenage girl whose husband was a struggling carpenter with no money. Then the couple have to take the baby King and run for their lives because the reigning king, Herod, feared the baby might grow up and overthrow him. His Pride seizes him so he sends his soldiers to kill the baby King. They kill hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent children in their heinous bloodletting yet never find the child they were looking for to begin with. 

As preposterous as this story may seem, more than two thousand years later more than two billion people still believe it. For over two millenium this belief has continued to transform the world. Millions upon millions of us will celebrate this miraculous birth a week from now. How can that be? 

It is due to that great intangible we call FAITH. You can't see it, you can't touch it and you cannot smell it. However, if you open yourself up to it, it can grab you in a life-long embrace that might take your breath away. Faith in God and all He has done is the greatest of all the gifts we will ever receive. It spawns kindness, and temperance and patience. And Faith breeds Humility. Humility will lead to love, true love of others, not ourselves. This is fact.

Peace without love is an illusion. It cannot exist. It can never come from our own agenda. That is because the deadly toxin, Pride, is inside us and Satan prowls the world dripping his venom into our hearts using Pride as the gateway “drug”. Many of us reject his “empty promises”. Many do not and their egos are commandeered so easily that they sometimes explode with hatred. 

This hatred is quite visible throughout the world today. Christianity is actually on the verge of being wiped out of the Middle East as Christians are being killed and tortured every day simply because they believe in this baby and who He grew up to be. The Good News is we have been given the antidote. It is Humility.

Our greatest of all gifts, FAITH, allows us to believe that God, the Creator of all that is, shared Himself with us through  His Son. To accomplish this He  humbled Himself in the most profound act of selflessness that was and will ever be. This was God become man for us. He came as a helpless, innocent newborn, barely able to grasp the finger of his Mom. He allowed himself to be born surrounded by the squalor and filth of a stable. Poor shepherds from the hillside were His first visitors. Humility lay in a pile of straw and looked up into the beautiful face of His weary Mom.

A few small pot fires provided enough light for the man of the family, Joseph, to see the two people that he had to care for and protect. No bells were ringing, no trumpets were blaring and no cymbals were smashing. The deafening quiet made this the greatest of Silent Nights.  Thirty-three years later, booming thunder would echo His death and three days after that brilliant sunshine would announce our redemption. It is the most beautiful of all truths.

FAITH is a gift that many people have seen fit to grab onto. They have responded to God's graces and listened. They have grabbed the 'brass ring'. There are many more who cannot escape the all-consuming Pride that keeps telling them they are so much smarter than all those 'believers'. 

How sad this is because this Pride is Satan’s portal that will allow him to take them on a road that leads to complete misery dominated by an all-consuming hatred of anything that is Good. If only they would reach out and allow that little hand to squeeze their finger, just for a moment. It will not hurt one bit and they might find out that respecting and honoring Humility can do a person wonders. It could even lead to Peace on Earth.

During this Christmas Season let us all consider asking  for an extra dose of Humility and then pray for Peace on Earth and that Good Will be in ALL people, everywhere. 
                                              
                                   Copyright Larry Peterson 2014 

December 16, 2014

If You Do Not Believe in Christmas Miracles Maybe You Should Reconsider

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson

I believe, without reservation, that the Christmas season is a time for miracles. I have, over the years, experienced more than one. This was my first. You can decide for yourself if it qualifies.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was August of 1960 and our mom had just celebrated her fortieth birthday. I was the oldest of the five kids and what I remember about her birthday was that she kept saying that her back hurt and that she did not feel good. I honestly do not remember the next few weeks. I had just turned 16 and had other things on my mind, mostly Babs McNulty who lived around the corner and who, for some reason or another, was occupying  my thoughts most of the time.

All I remember about Mom from that time was that she began going to the hospital and staying there for four or five days at a time. I guess it was near the end of September, school had recently  started and for the first time she was not at home. Dad told us, “She has the ‘grippe’ real bad and they need to keep an eye on her for a few days.” Okay, what did we know. Back then it seemed that everyone got the ‘grippe’ (today we call it the flu). But Mom’s was “real bad” so we accepted that.

We were kids. My brothers were ten, six and “going on two”. I had no idea how they were doing with their mommy being absent but that was because Grandma was in charge and, to me, everything was almost normal. Plus, it seemed like every four or five days mom would be home again.

Personally, I was a bit upset that she never looked quite right. She was thinner, had this pasty complexion and black and blue marks covered her arms from her hands up to her shoulders. My sister, Carolyn, 13, told me it was from her being stuck with needles for IVs in the hospital. She was in eighth grade and, since she wanted to be a nurse, I figured she was speaking with some authority on the subject. The thing of it was you could tell she did not believe her own explanation.

Dad, well, he said nothing that helped. It was always the same thing, Don’t worry, it’s just  the ‘grippe’, a real bad grippe”. But he was noticeably more quiet than usual and was always getting home much later because he would go to the hospital every afternoon. When Mom was home she always tried to act like everything was “normal”. Unfortunately, she was a lousy actress and could not hide her strange bruises or the fact that she was sleeping so much. As for Grandma, she was quite happy to accept the “real bad grippe” story. Today I understand that is what is called Denial and Grandma was really good at it.

Mom was home for Thanksgiving but most of the work was handled by Grandma.  I do not remember much about that Thanksgiving Day or when Mom went back into the hospital but I do know it was a few days or maybe even a week before December 18. That was the day Dad, Grandma, Carolyn and myself, headed downtown to Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan for a simple Sunday visit. That visit turned out to be anything but simple.

Dad had left our little brothers with  our family friends, "Uncle" John and "Aunt" Adeline, who lived downstairs.  We arrived at the hospital around 1:30. I remember the time because it seemed to take forever to get there.  Anyway, I believe Mom was on the third floor and when we got to the room a swarm of doctors and nurses were inside scurrying about. Mom was on the bed, head to one side and her eyes were closed. She was not moving. Carolyn and I stared at our mother as an ominous fear grabbed hold of us. Grandma placed her  hand over her mouth and started to cry. One of the doctors pulled my dad to the side and quietly talked to him. I watched him shake his head ever so slightly and then he turned to me. and said (and this is almost a direct quote from that day), “Please, take your sister and Grandma to the chapel and say a rosary together. She needs all the prayers she can get right now.”

Grandma gasped and I do remember putting my arm around her shoulder and saying, “C’mon Grandma, let’s do like dad asked.” (I was trying to be grown up).  I knew that the small, interdenominational chapel was down on the second floor. When the elevator door opened we moved aside as a priest stepped out and headed down the hallway toward mom’s room. Grandma had tears running down her face but was stoic and got onto the elevator without saying a word. Carolyn and I followed and we went down to the chapel.

I have no idea how long we were there but we did pray two rosaries together. At some point in time a nurse came in and asked us to please come back to mom’s room. We were a bit shocked because the nurse was smiling and definitely not somber. Grandma asked the nurse, “How is my Lily? How is my Lily?” Can I see her?”

“Please ma’am, just go back upstairs. You can see her. She is anxious to see you.” Grandma, on her worn out arthritic knees actually tried to run to get back to her daughter. I hurried after her as she had just, for the moment, shredded 30 years of age.

When we walked into the room we were confronted with a sight to behold. Mom was sitting up in the bed, smiling. Dad was next to her leaning against the bed with his arm around her shoulder. He was sporting a grin that went from ear to ear and tears were streaming down his face. Standing on the other side of the bed was the priest we had seen leaving the elevator.  He was just standing with his hands clasped together and a look on his face I cannot describe. I did not know it but for me this was to   be a moment etched in time and I can still see that ‘moment’ as clear as I did then.

Our mom, who we were sure was dead or almost dead, extended her arms and said, “Well, don’t I get a hug from you two? Come on,  get over here.”

Carolyn ran over, buried her head in her mom's chest and began hugging away. I sheepishly walked over. Dad stayed right where he was and then Grandma had her turn. She had mom’s face between her hands and was saying over and over,  “Oh mein Gott, Oh mein Gott”, (Oh my God in German).

Inexplicably, Mom was better, ALL better. Her arms were clear, her face had color, and her eyes were bright and cheerful. There were several doctors outside the room in deep conversation with each other. They were baffled and had no explanation for her sudden recovery. We learned that Mom had Leukemia and, in 1960, your chances with that disease were virtually non-existent. Dad had asked us to go to the chapel and pray because the doctors had told him she had only a very short time to live and he wanted to spare us having to watching her die. It did not happen. My father and the priest believed they had witnessed a miracle. Grandma, Carolyn and I had seen the results of that miracle. Mom came home the next afternoon.

Christmas fell on Sunday in 1960 so it was still a week away. All the heretofore stifled Christmas “spirit” suddenly exploded in the Peterson house. By Tuesday a tree had been bought and was up and decorated.  Mom was the tinsel expert and she, with Carolyn as her pupil, finished the tree off by meticulously hanging the shiny aluminum strands one at a time. Mom and Grandma baked cookies and cakes and pies and there was singing as they did their work and neighbors stopped by all week long with Christmas cheer and greetings. It turned out that the Christmas of 1960 was probably the best Christmas any of us had ever had.  Monsignor Martin even mentioned Mom at midnight Mass and how she and her family were given the great gift of her recovery during Christmas.

Danny’s birthday was January 12 and he was about to turn eleven.  Johnny’s birthday was January 17 and he was going to be two. Mom continued to remain healthy and strong and both boys had great birthdays.  The discoloration on Mom’s arms began to make its reappearance around a week after Johnny’s birthday. Mom tried to hide it but she could not.

She began to get weaker and weaker and by the beginning of February she was back in the hospital. On February 18, 1961, exactly two months after our family's Christmas miracle, Mom passed away. We had all been granted one more Christmas with her. Plus, God was with us that Christmas also, no doubt about it.

                                           copyright Larry Peterson 2014,All  Rights reserved


December 11, 2014

Celebrating Our First Alzheimer's Christmas Together; Laughter Allowed

IT  MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson

I guess the first time I realized that something was really wrong was about a year and a half ago. I have a bedroom I turned into an office and I was sitting at the keyboard clicking away. I sensed someone behind me and turned to see my wife, Marty, standing there. She had a strange look on her face. I remember the moment because fear was etched across her face. "Hey," I said. "What's the matter?"

Then I noticed she was trembling. I stood up and went over to her and put my hands on her shoulders.  She stammered and sort of whispered, "I don't know. I think I need your help."

"Okay, what is it?"

Marty turned and headed down the hall past the living room and into the kitchen. I followed and noticed that she had her "cookie" stuff out. As she had done so many times in the past,  she was about to  make the best, old fashioned, home-made, chocolate-chip cookies I have ever had. Like a child, I said, "Oh, awesome, you're making cookies. So, how can I help?"

"She sighed and shook her head, She began to cry and, looking at me, said, " What is all this? I don't know what it is for?"

The woman who had made thousands upon thousands of these cookies over the years had no memory of previously doing what she had done so many times before. She had placed the needed supplies on the counter and went to use the bathroom. When she returned a few minutes later what had been virtually second nature to her had been erased from her mind. It was all gone. She had come back to me for help because she KNEW something was terribly wrong inside her head and this time the sudden, specific memory loss was scaring the hell out of her. She sobbed, "What is happening to me?"

She had been sick with Lymphoma since 2011. She had endured numerous cycles of chemotherapy to fight the disease. Anesthesia required because of surgery in August (needed to repair a broken ankle) and an attack of A-Fib (Atrial Fibrillation) in September exacerbated the cognitive dysfunction. She was officially diagnosed as having Alzheimer's Disease *on September 28. And now we are approaching our first Christmas together with  Alzheimer's as our unwanted Christmas guest. Guess what---it is OK. He will not ruin our Christmas. He is welcome to join us. That is because we have started to laugh again, more and more. And we are laughing at the insanity of living in Alzheimerville. And trust me, it can get quite wacky.

I have always had a bit of a "flip attitude". It probably has helped me get through some tough times. So when Marty goes to the cardiologist and goes to sign in and cannot remember her name she looks at me for help. I smile and say, "Who cares Lucy, they know who you are. Just put down Lucille Ball."  She starts to laugh and I laugh and I write her name down for her. Not an issue.

The past ten years of her life seem to have literally vanished from her brain. She does not remember us getting married. (We were both widowed and married eight years ago. She has no clue.) So she asks me if we are really married. I show her our marriage license and pictures from our wedding. She is shocked. "I can't believe it, " she says. We really ARE married." Now, every night I say to her, "Okay, we can sleep together tonight. Its not a sin."  She always laughs at that.

There are so many little, extraordinary things that happen every day. Being asked the same question over and over can become unnerving. I have turned it around where I start by giving her the answer.  For example, she asks me ten times a day, "How do you feel today?"  After  a few times I answer, "Today I feel like seeing you and that makes my day shiny."  It is a ridiculous answer but she likes it  and I like it too.

I cannot count the things that have been moved to the strangest places. I have found the Parmesan cheese in the towel closet,  unwashed clothes in the dryer. She makes coffee and tells me it is the worst coffee she ever had and I should let her make it. She has hair curlers that keep vanishing. I have found them in the garage, in the refrigerator and under the kitchen sink. We had been searching for them and when I found them in the refrigerator I said loudly, "Here they are."

She was standing nearby and turned to see me lifting the bag from next to the milk. I quickly asked, "Can  I use these for curly fries?"  I began to laugh and she shook her head and smiled. I gave her a hug opened the freezer door and tossed the curlers in. "They are not frozen enough," I said.  She began to laugh and so did I and, although shrouded in a dark moment, we laughed our way into the brightness of a new moment.

 Marty has been captured and imprisoned by the most insidious of diseases. It is like a computer virus slowly deleting what is in memory. So far the last ten years are gone. That cursor is still clicking, delete, delete, delete.. The day will come when she will not even know who I am. I will do my best to keep her laughing and smiling as long as I can and as long as she understands why we laugh.

As for me, I must admit, this entire situation has been wearing me down. There is a lot to do as a caregiver. I traveled a similar road with my first wife, Loretta, who died 12 years ago from cancer. She was sick a longtime but she never lost brain function. That is a very difficult thing to deal with 24/7. But you do what you have to do.  If a man and a woman love each other that is the way it should be, HAPPY to be there for each other, "no matter what". We both took vows before God and man to that effect and, for me, they remain in full force until death.

Our biggest friend in all of this is our Catholic faith. It is there for us through the Holy Mass, through Our Lord Jesus, through Our Blessed Mother and through the examples and intercessions of so many great saints and reinforced every day by prayers from our family and friends.  In fact, I did attend Mass this morning and I had a bit of an 'epiphany'. I was feeling a bit sorry for myself when I realized I had been given a Christmas gift from God Himself. (If you think I am crazy, I don't care).

This gift is my ill wife afflicted with a disease that is unstoppable and incurable. She is foremost, God's child, and now she needs someone to take care of her just as she did years ago when she was a child.  We met at church and were married in church. An unlikely couple, I know that God brought us together. Maybe this is why. Because during the Christmas season of 2014 I realized that besides a wife, HE has given me one of HIS children to care for. I will do my best to make Him proud. I will also do my best to keep us laughing. It is all GOOD.

MERRY CHRISTMAS
________________________________________________________________________

* In case you do not know this, Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia are NOT the same thing. Alzheimer's is the number one cause of Dementia but there are over 150 different causes.                                                                       copyright Larry Peterson 2014

December 5, 2014

I Love Christmas and I Will be Praying for all the "Grinches" trying to Ruin It

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson

I love Christmas and the entire season that surrounds it. Christmas is about faith and love and goodness and sharing and giving and all of those things that fill the hearts of the vast majority of people around the world with a renewed spirit that can shine through even the darkest moments we may have experienced during the preceding year. Yes, I love Christmas.

Christmas is so much more than a 'certain day' each year. It is an actual state of mind. It becomes part of whom many of us still are....Children at heart. And we become children again through our own children and even our grandchildren. We can love the anxiety and pressure and the cookies and candy and putting up the tree and neighborhood decorations the same as the little ones.  I  anxiously looked forward to Santa's arrival when I was a child and still looked forward to his arrival as the one who dressed up in a Santa suit and crept into my own house at midnight. Now my sons do that and I can hear about his arrival the next morning from the wide eyed grandkids who actually witnessed Santa disappear from their house after leaving presents under the tree. Yes, I love Christmas.

Most importantly, Christmas is about Salvation. The story is so beautiful and profound. A simple carpenter, obeying the law, must take his full-term, pregnant teenage wife, on an 80-mile journey to the town of his ancestry for the census. Riding on the back of a mule she somehow manages to make the trip and God only knows (and HE does) how this could be possible. Not knowing anyone, they cannot find a place to stay and the baby is about to be born. Effectively homeless and in a strange town they wind up in a stable and mom gives birth to her child surrounded by smelly animals and old straw. Can you imagine?

This helpless infant is the Son of God, sent by His Father, and His birth among the lowest of the low shows us all the greatest act of humility ever enacted by anyone, before, then, or ever after. This baby will grow up and they will torture and kill Him when He is 33 years old. Why? Because He preaches forgiveness and kindness and that we should "love our neighbor" and "turn the other cheek". This made Him a threat to those in power. They just had to get rid of Him. Today, 2000 years later, over 2.6 billion people are following  Him. I guess killing Jesus did not bring the desired results. Yes, I love Christmas.

Today we still have those who want desperately to kill Jesus. From the maniacal Islamists around the world who are doing their best to physically murder Christians wherever they can find them to  the atheists, agnostics, pagans, heathens, satanists and their ilk who HATE everything about Christianity and Christmas. (Okay, okay, maybe not ALL of them hate Christmas but we never hear from them.)

To all of you who want to ruin this day, I ask, "Why?" You are also removing the love and goodness that is associated with it. So, shame on you. You know what, you are all just "plain old mean". You are the true "grinches" in the world. You are an embarrassment to all the tender hearts filled with kindness and generosity during this time of the year.

I wish to say to all you "grinches" that I will say a prayer for all of you this Christmas. I will pray that you might catch a glimpse of that star that shines so bright. Maybe a droplet of its light will find a way into into your heart. If you happen to catch a glimpse of this light please, do not turn away. You will have chosen to ignore a beautiful Christmas moment. This moment could be the greatest gift you ever receive. What do you have to lose? So keep your eyes and hearts open and MERRY CHRISTMAS to all and may God bless us, ALL of us. And yes, I do love Christmas.

December 2, 2014

Is There REALLY a Santa Claus? Absolutely! No Doubt About It!

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson

Every year I put this out because it is proof that Santa Claus is real and loves children the world over and brings them gifts every Christmas Eve. How can I be so sure he is real? Well, the letter below proves it, even if it was written 117 years ago. It has stood the test of time and is as profound today as it was in 1897. In fact, it might be wise for all of the sophisticated secularists who inhabit the editorial boards of the print and broadcast media to take heed to the words below. They were penned by one of your own, Francis Pharcellus Church, an editorial writer for the New York Sun during a time when there were no radios, airplanes, televisions, and even iPads. In fact, back then, besides talking to each other, people used pencils, pen and paper to communicate with each other. Can you imagine?

Some of you might have seen this before. If you have, enjoy it again. If not, enjoy it now. It is a letter written by eight year old, Virginia O'Hanlon, of West 95th Street in New York City, to the newspaper asking if  Santa Claus was TRUE. Her dad had told her that if the "Sun" said it was true than it must  be so. Enjoy a moment back in time when things were a bit simpler and the innocence of children was loved and respected by most 'grown-ups'.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Is There A Santa Claus?
From the editorial page of The New York Sun
September 21, 1897
_______________________________________________
Dear Editor---I am eight years old. Some of my friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in THE SUN, it’s so. Please tell me the truth. Is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia O’Hanlon
115 W. 95th St.
_______________________________________________
Dear Virginia, your friends are wrong. They have been affected by the scepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes Virginia, there isa Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginia. There would be no child-like faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence.We should have no enjoyment except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your Papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and  picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah Virginia, in all this world, there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God he lives! And he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten time ten thousand years from now , he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

November 29, 2014

Mother of Five, Sentenced to be Hanged, Pleads, "Please Do Not Abandon Me!"

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson

Back on October 22, I wrote a blog  about a wife and mother of five kids who lives in Pakistan and has been sentenced to death by hanging for the crime of "blasphemy". That's right; BLASPHEMY. And how does one commit such a heinous act in Pakistan? Asia Bibi drank some water that was only supposed to be for Muslims to drink. She is a Catholic/Christian and is therefore considered "unclean". It followed that she defiled the drinking water. An argument between her and her Muslim co-workers ensued. So, since she was a Catholic, she was accused of blasphemy for insulting Muhammad. They beat her, tried her and sentenced her to death.  That was five years ago and she is still in prison waiting to be hanged. This sentence has been upheld by Pakistan's Supreme Court. How civilized some of our 'friends and allies" are.

 I cannot help but feel a deep affinity for these people. After all, we are all part of the same spiritual family. They are people just like you and I. They love their spouses and children and their moms and dads. They get the flu and upset stomachs. They get rashes and toothaches and they have wants and desires. They want a nice home that is safe and secure. They would like to have a church they can go to without a fear of being killed or maimed for doing so. They just want some peace in their lives. Yet they are hated and despised. Why--because they are just like me and maybe you. They are Catholic and believe in Jesus Christ.

 Yes, like us, they believe in the "golden rule". Unlike us and  for believing this they are called "infidels". They are defiled as "unclean". For this they are killed. For this they are blown up by maniacs. For this Asia Bibi will be hanged by the neck until her twitching body stops moving. Where is the outcry? Where is the outrage from all of us here in America? Where are the reproaches by the National Organization for Women? Why does our government help a government that allows such medieval acts to be inflicted on its own people by its own people?  Why not demand the Pakistani government end these atrocities or we will remove their seemingly bottomless U.S. money pit?

As a Catholic man I know that these people are also our brothers and sisters in faith. We belong to the same church and Pope Francis is our spiritual leader. We are "extended" family. The only difference between them and us is location. We are greatly blessed and still have full stomachs from our Thanksgiving feast. They are in dreaded fear of any day being imprisoned and tortured and murdered. This morning, I was able to drive over to my church and attend morning Mass. No fuss, no muss, no anxiety existed. I am a free American man allowed to practice my religion (so far) unencumbered. Cross over an imaginary line called a boundary and things can change quickly.

Recently a 28 year old pregnant Christian woman, our sister in faith, was dragged from her home by her employer's sons and his friends, stripped naked and forced to parade up and down the streets of Rana Town in Pakistan for a half hour. Her offense? The man did not think she was doing her work properly. She  lost the baby. Never doubt this fact, to be a Catholic/Christian in Pakistan and Sudan and Iran and other places takes tremendous faith and courage.

For me and you, blessed to be living in America, we have never been faced with the threat of torture, mutilation, hanging, beheading, or being starved because we believe in God differently than someone else. Yet, around the world, our brothers and sisters in faith live with this reality every minute of their lives. They must TRULY love their Savior, Jesus Christ. I do not know if I could be as brave and courageous if faced with the same everyday circumstance.

God bless them all. They make me SO proud and humbled to be part of their Christian family.

November 26, 2014

Time to Pause, take a Breath and Give Thanks to HIM.

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson

The simplicity of the Thanksgiving Holiday captured my spirit decades ago. This is the one day of the year where we, as Americans, just stop everything and take a breath from the year gone by to say THANK YOU to God. We gather with family or friends or maybe even with strangers in a food center who become our new friends, and share the bounty He has so graciously bestowed upon us. All we have to do is "show up". You do not even  have to bring gifts. Just bring a thankful heart and a smile on your face. It doesn't get any better than that. I love it.

So I would like to wish anyone who might read this a God filled and beautiful Thanksgiving Day. I am posting two Thanksgiving prayers that fit the occasion.
__________________________________________________________________________


PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING

by  Walter Rauschenbusch
O God, we thank you for this earth, our home;
For the wide sky and the blessed sun,
For the salt sea and the running water,
For the everlasting hills
And the never-resting winds,
For trees and the common grass underfoot.
We thank you for our senses
By which we hear the songs of birds,
And see the splendor of the summer fields,
And taste of the autumn fruits,
And rejoice in the feel of the snow,
And smell the breath of the spring.
Grant us a heart wide open to all this beauty;
And save our souls from being so blind
That we pass unseeing
When even the common thornbush
Is aflame with your glory,
O God our creator,
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

 From Living God’s Justice: Reflections and Prayers, compiled by The Roundtable Association of Diocesan Social Action Directors



IN GRATITUDE
Thank you, Father, for having created us and given us to each other in the human family. Thank you for being with us in all our joys and sorrows, for your comfort in our sadness, your companionship in our loneliness. Thank you for yesterday, today, tomorrow and for the whole of our lives. Thank you for friends, for health and for grace. May we live this and every day conscious of all that has been given to us.

 From The Catholic Prayer Book, compiled by Msgr. Michael Buckley.

November 23, 2014

The Catholic Church; The Foremost Enemy of Satanic Driven Virtue

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson

The United States of America is the only nation in history to have used the Judeo-Christian Principle  as the lynchpin for the nation's development and growth. So, what happened? How did this principle seemingly get tossed into the dumpster of the outdated and irrelevant? How did this principle of ethics and morality based on the Ten Commandments and the "Golden Rule" somehow become a pariah to so many? Why would anyone want to remove the words, "under God", from the Pledge of Allegiance or the name of God from our coins or government buildings? What is going on? How did these principles ever become inverted?

It is, in my opinion, all biblical. And why not? We started out as a nation using the Bible as our cornerstone. Isn't it fitting that those opposed to us would try to destroy that very stone? Of course it is. But there is one critical aspect that drives this onslaught and I think we do not pay close enough attention to it. Neither do the ones committing the onslaught. Those that are flailing away at our religious heritage and freedoms are not committing these attacks on their own. They have a brilliant, diabolical, hate-consumed leader inspiring them onward. Their leader's name is Satan. And Satan's biggest and most hated enemy is the church that Jesus Christ founded, the Catholic Church.

The Catholic Church was founded by Christ 2000 years ago. The Church is His "bride". We are all part of the Catholic family. (The word Catholic means 'universal' so it is for everyone--if they so choose). And the reason Satan hates Christ's church so much is because it still spits in his evil eye and says NO! It still has rules. It has standards that have been in place for two thousand years. It still has the "nerve and audacity" to use the words, SIN and MORALITY.  In today's self-indulged secular world anything or anyone that might suggest that a particular behavior is "immoral" or "sinful" is branded and vilified as intolerant and uncaring. How pompous and pride filled this is. Only the new age secularists would have the audacity to suggest that their inverted "virtue" is GOOD and the concept of self-denial is SINFUL.

Our old comic book friend, Superman, on occasion used to get stuck in "Bizarro World", a place where everything was backwards. Up was down and hello meant good-bye. Even the planet, Htrae, (Earth backwards), was shaped like a cube. The world was inverted. It is the same with the insanity of inverted secular virtue. I call this world "Secularro".

On Secularro killing is "Good" and if you stand against it you are bad. For instance, take abortion, infanticide, euthanasia and partial-birth abortion. The church says NO! On Secularro the Church is now bad. Fornication and people "hooking up" for one-night stands is heralded as "Good". The church says NO!  On Secularro the church is told to mind its own business. Divorced and remarried Catholics want to receive the Holy Eucharist. The church says NO! (This is nothing new) . On Secularro the church is intolerant and insensitive and is out of touch with the modern world and needs to get into the 21st century. Homosexuals demand to be married in the Church. The Church says NO!  Marriage is between a man and a woman ONLY. Satan screams from his evil world to his followers,'Say YES! YES! YES!"

On Secularro the inverted unwittingly listen to him and pound on the dogmatic doors of the Catholic Church demanding that they be opened to personal wants and desires. Unlike Bizarro World where things are just 'crazy' on Secularro World things are mean and vindictive. Secularro World is ruled by hate. Satan is Hate.

There are other Christian denominations that have succumbed to outside pressures and reworked their "teachings" to accommodate the demands from Secularro. They have been praised as "progressive" and "in touch" with the needs of the citizens of Secularro.  Their mission is to save souls for Christ  and guide these souls to their Eternal Reward in heaven.  They have failed in this mission. But the Catholic Church has not caved into the demands and pressures of Secularro World. Satan HATES this more than any of us can imagine. That is why the Catholic Church is Satan's (im)mortal enemy.

The Catholic Church still teaches  that there are Seven Deadly Sins. They are pride, greed,  lust, anger, gluttony, envy and sloth aka laziness. Note the key word in describing these sins is the word "deadly". The Church teaches that these sins can destroy the soul of anyone who might indulge these human appetites. The church also offers forgiveness for falling prey to these sins. On Secularro the church is mocked and laughed at for suggesting these actions offend God.  These acts are acceptable because the individual committing one of these sins is just being human  and God made us that way and wants us to be "happy". So--sin away. How inverted can one get. If you subscribe to that concept SATAN wins.

It is time to start looking hard at the Bible. And we might start by going to St. Paul's Letter to the Ephesians. Chapter 6: 16-17.
In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield,
To quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit,
which is the word of God.

November 13, 2014

We Christians are the World's Most Persecuted People

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson

The persecution of our brother and sister Catholic/Christians continues unabated all over the world. In the Middle East, North Africa and Asia Minor, thousands upon thousands of our brothers and sisters in faith have been summarily tortured, raped, beheaded, hanged, burned, shot and even buried alive simply because they love Jesus Christ. Men and women, (including priests and nuns), and innocent children are the victims of this carnage. How can their fellow human beings hate so much that they would do these things to them? There can be only one answer. They have sold their very souls to the "angel of pride", Lucifer aka Satan.

Where is the outrage? Why is this happening? Why does the western world's newsmakers, print and broadcast, seem to ignore these atrocities? Where are the voices from the leaders of the west in speaking out in contempt and disdain against those who commit these heinous acts and proclaim them virtuous? How can the United States of America know these things and still give billions of dollars in aid to nations that allow such things to happen within their own borders?

Pope Francis, at the conclusion of his November 12 general audience said, "I turn to those who have political responsibility both on a local and on an international level, as well as to all persons of goodwill, with a heartfelt appeal to engage in a vast mobilization of consciences in favor of persecuted Christians. They have the right to once again find security and serenity in their own countries, freely professing OUR faith."

Pope Francis intentionally used the word OUR. OUR is a possessive pronoun. We are part of them and the Pope wants us to be aware of that fact. Is anyone LISTENING? These are OUR brothers and sisters in faith. They have the same belief in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior as we do. But OUR Christian relatives are being slaughtered because WE all are hated. If we were over there with OUR brothers and sisters our life expectancy would drop dramatically.

History repeats, over and over and over. Genocide(s) have accounted for millions upon millions of deaths to people just like all of us. Just in the 20th century alone there have probably been 100,000,000 people murdered and oftentimes it was for "religious" beliefs. The Nazis alone accounted for the extermination of 6,000,000 people simply because they were Jewish. From 1915-1918, Christian Armenians in Turkey were slaughtered by those who had come to power. Three Muslim men, known as the Young Turks, had seized control of the government from the Sultan and orchestrated this horrendous slaughter so as to expand their empire. When they were done 2,000,000 Christian Armenian men, women and children had been killed.

Today the group known as ISIS, a band of Islamic maniacs, are rampaging through the Middle East killing Catholic/Christians by the thousands. These "people" do not even have a country of their own. They are wanting to start a Caliphate, a completely Muslim world ruled by Sharia Law. In their hate filled, bloody-thirsty quest to accomplish this they have "cleansed" entire cities of Christians. Where is the outrage from the civilized world? Why is the American press so silent about these atrocities? Could it be that those in power also want Christianity obliterated and show their approval by their deafening silence?

If you happen to read this I would ask that you remember the following Catholic/Christians and say a prayer for them,whether or not they are dead or still alive:
Father Frans Van der Lugt; a Catholic priest who spent over 50 years in Syria helping the poor. He was beaten and shot to death by ISIS last spring. He was 76 years old;
Salem Matti Kourk; because of a heart condition he had to stay behind in the town of Bartella as ISIS overran it. After three weeks in hiding Salem left his hiding place in a quest to find some food and water. He was caught by ISIS maniacs and beaten to death with clubs. They took his mangled body and placed it in front of the Church of the Virgin Mary which they had already destroyed.
Asia Bibi: has been in prison in Pakistan for five years. Her crime? Drinking the same water that the Muslims were going to drink. After being mocked as a Catholic she defended Jesus. She was immediately accused of "blasphemy" and sentenced to be hanged. She has five children and this sentence may be carried out any day as the Pakistani Supreme Court upheld the verdict.
"Little Christy": this was a baby, (less than two years old) who was used as a photo-op by ISIS before being killed. One of the most horrendous photos I have ever seen. See the Christy link for the full story.
Miriam Ibrahim: is alive and back in the United States. But she was held in prison in Sudan for months, chained to a bed and forced to give birth to her baby that way. Her two year old son was imprisoned with her. Her 'crime'. She became Christian and did not know that her long, lost father, had been a Muslim. Thus, she became a "blasphemer" and was sentenced to be hanged. World pressure finally forced her release. One good ending interlaced amongst the bloodthirsty madness.

As the Christmas season approaches we must accept the fact that a war against all Catholic/Christians, including you if you believe in Jesus Christ, is raging. We must be ready to defend our faith at all times. Let us join together in prayer, every day, for all our brothers and sisters, being persecuted all over the world, including in the USA.  We ask our heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus, His Son, through the power of the Holy Spirit to hear our prayer(s).                                                                                          

November 9, 2014

A Piano Concert Given on the Road to Nothingness

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson

Until about four years ago, Marty, was never sick a day in her life. That is when the Lymphoma was discovered and the chemo began. The cancer would come and go and so would the PeT Scans and continued chemo treatments. Truthfully, it was never much more than an inconvenience. She never got sick, lost weight or had any of those stereotypical cancer fears materialize.

What did unexpectedly occur were the ever more frequent cognitive disruptions. Memory lapses, asking the same question over and over and things like that. I spoke to her oncologist and he silently said with raised eyebrows, tightened lips  and a shrug, ‘there might be a problem’.

Anesthesia administered during surgery for a severely broken ankle on August 1, dragged her deeply into the nether world which, up until then, had only been toying with her.  Now it grabbed her and yanked her in. On September 24 a heart attack (A-Fib) resolved any uncertainty. Her “Fog” or CRCD (Cancer Related Cognitive Dysfunction) was diagnosed as Alzheimer’s Disease. Quicksand could not have been more efficient.  Onward and downward.

The hospital and rehab stay after the ankle surgery had lasted 20 days and the days spent in the hospital and rehab after the A-Fib attack lasted 33 days. She thought I had moved her into a new apartment and was wondering why I would not stay there at night. Like a good “soldier” she would wait patiently, hour after hour after hour, until I returned the next day. Then, like a three year old who had been found by her daddy, her face would light up and she would say, “Oh thank God, you found me.” She knew she was “saved” and would hug me tight and not let go.

I freely admit that every damn day on the way home I cried thinking of how sad this was. My intelligent, independent, wife had become a lost child, the victim of an insidious demon inside her head who was erasing her brain. I had turned into a blubbering idiot. This Alzheimer’s thing was surely a despicable foe.

Marty returned home on October 26 with a bag full of new medications and a mind that was telling her that I had moved her into a ‘new’ house. She asked me if we “were married’, if we would sleep together in the same bed and if, in fact, her piano was new. After two weeks she had recovered some of (not all) her sense of belonging  in “her home”. She was still not sure where things should go and kept moving items from here to there without me knowing. I have (so far) had to search hi and low for the shampoo, the toothpaste, parmigianna cheese,  combs and hairbrush etc.  So be it—together we plod forward with her doing whatever she will do and me learning to (at all times) expect the unexpected. This is a minute to minute journey, unplanned, without a destination and very spontaneous.  But—there can be beautiful moments and yesterday one unexpectedly came along.

Marty has played piano since she was a child and is quite an accomplished pianist. A concern of mine while she was in rehab was that she might not remember how to play. I have been told she will actually forget how to. Yesterday, those concerns were put on hold.

I was in my cluttered, paper strewn office staring at the computer monitor when piano music began filling the house. I smiled to myself as I began to listen and then I realized this was something different. This was not the usual Marty, this was a transcendent  Marty. I could not believe what I was hearing. She was playing the most beautiful music I had ever heard  her play. “Stella by Starlight” filled the rooms followed by “Autumn Leaves” and then, my favorite, Chopin’s Major in E flat. I watched from the hallway and saw that she was lost within the music that she was bringing forth on that old piano.


Watching her play was like observing one of God’s magnificent flowers fully bloom. Realizing that these were now fleeting  moments soon to be no more I had the good sense to record the entire hour  that she played.  I figured that when she does forget how to play and does not recognize the piano or maybe even me, that music will still be here. That is when I will play it for her.  Maybe, just maybe, from whatever world she is in, she will take pause and smile. Maybe she will remember some of her music. Maybe, just maybe…